The speaker even suggested that consumers shop in the community, rather than by phone, Internet or catalog.
YOUNGSTOWN -- While con artists will prey on victims year-round, warm weather brings some classic scams.
Dee Scotchie, editor of the Golden Gazette crime prevention newsletter of the Youngstown Police department, told members of the Southern Boulevard Block Watch how to recognize those ploys.
"This time of year you will hear about 'gypsy contractors,'" she said at Wednesday's block watch meeting. The term refers to people who will knock on a door and offer to do home repairs with materials left over from another job, she explained.
The materials are normally of inferior quality, or the person will accept the money and never return to do the work, she said.
"Just say 'No, thank you' and tell them if you want work done, you will contact a local contractor," Scotchie said.
Other routine scams Scotchie warned against include those where someone will knock on the door, claiming to need money because a vehicle ran out of gas, or those asking to either use the restroom or the telephone.
"Tell them to give you the number and you will dial it for them," she said. "Or tell them the gas station is right down the road, that this is not a public facility."
Usually, those trying to gain entrance to the home will have an accomplice waiting outside to distract the resident as the person inside will take as many belongings as possible.
Scotchie also warned against giving out personal information over the phone or computer, and suggested consumers even be careful when shopping out of catalogs.
"I prefer to keep the money right here in the community and to be able to see what I am buying," she said. "That way you also get a better sense of belonging to the community."
Throughout the talk, she stressed that residents should never open their door to strangers, and to trust their gut if they have second thoughts.
For more information on scams, or to report possible scams, residents should contact local police, she said.